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Indonesian gay rights activist one test away from human rights commissioner

Dede Oetomo is one of 30 candidates through to final stage of selection for Komnas HAM, Indonesia’s national human rights commission
Dede Oetomo

Long-serving Indonesian gay rights activist is through to the final leg of selection for the national human rights commission, Komnas HAM.

If Dede Oetomo is one of 15 of the 30 current candidates chosen by parliament to serve on the commission, he will tackle the many human rights abuses against LGBT people in Indonesia.

‘It's official: I passed on to the last short list of 30 candidates which will be submitted to parliament,’ Oetomo told Gay Star News. 'It feels very good and reassuring, since I'm kind of a "certified" human rights defender. On the other hand, I feel somewhat nervous about the possibility of serving as a commissioner, given how serious the issues are.'

Oetomo has told Gay Star News before that he thinks police violence against transgender women is the most pressing LGBT rights issue for the commission.

The process for selecting the 15 commissioners, who will serve on Komnas HAM for five years, is rigorous. The commission received 363 applications from Indonesians who felt they have expertise in human rights in February. Of these 120, including transgender activist Yulianus Rettoblaut, got through to the second round of selection but unfortunately she didn’t pass the third round’s personality test and essay.

Oetomo told Gay Star News it was unfortunate that Rettoblaut didn’t get through, but he thought the selection process was fair. He wrote his essay about the importance of LGBT rights. ‘I thought I was taking a risk but they apparently liked it,’ he said.

Komnas HAM was established in 1993 by Indonesia’s then president Soeharto to monitor and investigate human rights violations and educate the government, police and military on human rights.

The current Komnas HAM commissioner Kabul Supriyadhi recently admonished the government for ignoring the commission's recommendations.

‘Komnas HAM is required to submit recommendations on cases of human rights violations to the executive and legislative institutions for further action. Sadly, things don’t happen as is expected,’ Supriyadhi said, as reported by The Jakarta Post.

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